The Collision Course in Syria

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: President Obama’s continued insistence on “regime change” in Syria and his support for Sunni jihadists not called ISIS have escalated tensions with Moscow, especially after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane along the Syrian border. This division may help only the extremists, writes Daniel Lazare.

In the Dark on the ‘Dark Side’

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 27, 2002. (White House photo)

The “War on Terror” – now more than 14 years long – has trapped the U.S. and other nations in the “dark side” of human behavior, a dilemma that is both moral and practical because the continued use of brutal methods has only made the crisis worse, as Nicolas J S Davies explains.

The Real Thanksgiving Day

Original Thanksgiving as depicted by Jennie A. Brownscombe

From the Archive: On Thanksgiving Day, the United States celebrates the tradition of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down together in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621 to celebrate each other as friendly neighbors. But the reality was not so pleasant, as historian William Loren Katz recalled.

In Case You Missed…

Some of our special stories in October focused on the deepening crisis in Syria, continued corruption in Ukraine, the frustrating presidential campaign, and the enduring mystery over the MH-17 shoot-down.

Turkey Provokes Russia with Shoot-down

Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

Exclusive: Turkey appears to have deliberately shot down a Russian warplane as a provocation designed to escalate tensions between NATO and Russia, a ploy that seems to have sucked in President Obama as he tries to look tough against Russia to appease his neocon critics, writes Robert Parry. (Update: Russia says one airman saved.)

Delinking Terrorism and Islam

President Barack Obama in his weekly address on Sept. 13, 2014, vowing to degrade and ultimately defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (White House Photo)

Exclusive: President Obama has faced sharp criticism from the Right for refusing to link Islam to acts of terrorism. He argues that to do so plays into the hands of violent criminals who wrap their brutality in the cloak of a great religion. But who has the better side of this argument, asks Jonathan Marshall.

The Bitter Fruit of ‘Bibi-ism’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own "red line" on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

A constant irritant exacerbating the anger in the Middle East is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Israeli Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu privately believing that no solution is really possible though he may pretend otherwise in public, what some call “Bibi-ism,” writes Michael Winship.

Going Nativist on Syrian Refugees

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

The political opportunism over Syrian refugees – from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other GOP presidential candidates – is one of the uglier features of the growing hysteria over terrorism. It also reflects a recurring strain of nativism that has infected the U.S. public at times of stress, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar recalls.

Hitting Saudi Arabia Where It Hurts

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and his entourage arrive to greet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: Though faced with a global terrorism crisis, Official Washington can’t get beyond its neocon-led “tough-guy-gal” rhetoric. But another option – financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia – might help finally shut down the covert supply of money and arms to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, writes Robert Parry.

A ‘See-No-Evil’ Drone War

Done "pilots" launch an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle for a raid in the Middle East. (U.S. military photo)

The mainstream U.S. news media has failed miserably in holding the U.S. government to account for the killing of civilians in its drone strikes during the 14-year-old “war on terror,” rarely supplying such unpleasant facts even when they become available, writes John Hanrahan.

Ducking the Issue of ‘Perpetual War’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

During last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders had an opening to reshape the campaign by offering a thoughtful critique of “perpetual war” and its consequences, but – like the other major candidates of both parties – ducked this crucial issue, writes Sam Husseini.

Rethinking ‘Assad Must Go’ Slogan

Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

Official Washington’s “Assad must go!” slogan is threatening to destroy hopes for a political settlement of the horrific Syrian conflict and for an end to the chaos cascading from it – finally prompting some U.S. officials to rethink the “group think,” as Gareth Porter reported for Middle East Eye.

The Brutal Paris Terror Attack

Peace for Paris symbol.

As horrific as the Paris terror attack was, it was not a sophisticated operation engineered by some diabolical mastermind. It was a low-tech, brutal assault that has distracted from a more important debate – how to give young, disaffected Muslim men more reason to live – writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

The Saudi Connection to Terror

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: While Official Washington devotes much sound and fury to demands for a wider war in Syria and the need to turn away Syrian refugees, Democrats and Republicans dodge the tougher question: how to confront Saudi Arabia about its covert funding for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, writes Daniel Lazare.

The ‘War on Terror’ Has Been Lost

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

After 14 years, trillions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people dead – with violence expanding, not abating – perhaps it’s finally time to admit that the Bush-Obama “War on Terror” has been lost and that a new strategy addressing root causes is required, as Nat Parry describes.

Hard Lessons from Paris Attack

Indian historian Vijay Prashad.

In Official Washington, the talk is all about expanded wars and how tough to be on Syrian refugees. But elsewhere there is some serious reflection on how the West went wrong in its approach toward the Middle East, as reflected in Dennis J Bernstein’s interview with Indian historian Vijay Prashad.

Tangled Threads of US False Narratives

President Barack Obama meets with his national security advisors in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: Official Washington’s many false narratives about Russia and Syria have gotten so tangled that they have become a danger to the struggle against Sunni jihadist terrorism and conceivably a threat to the future of the planet, a risk that Robert Parry explores.

How Russians See the West and Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin taking the presidential oath at his third inauguration ceremony  on May 7, 2012. (Russian government photo)

The U.S. mainstream media’s recent depictions of Russia amount to little more than crass propaganda, including the inside-out insistence that it is the Russian people who are the ones brainwashed by their government’s propaganda. Author Natylie Baldwin found a different reality in a tour of Russian cities.

Reform Judaism’s Israeli Critique

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with his generals to discuss the offensive in Gaza in 2014. (Israeli government photo)

Israel’s nearly seven decades of repressing Palestinians has soured many ethical Jews on the idea that the Jewish state should get unqualified support for its behavior, including now Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the leader of U.S. Reform Judaism, as Lawrence Davidson describes.

Baiting Obama to ‘Shock and Awe’

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as "shock and awe."

Official Washington’s armchair warriors are pounding their drums again, demanding a larger U.S. invasion of Syria and decrying President Obama as “feckless” for showing some restraint. But these hawks offer little thinking about the consequences of another long-term occupation, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

Neocons Make Rubio Their Favorite

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

With Sen. Marco Rubio surging in the polls – closing the gap on Donald Trump and easily besting Hillary Clinton in some general-election match-ups – the neocons have found their favorite candidate, a fresh face who would put them firmly back in the driver’s seat of U.S. foreign policy, as JP Sottile explains.

CIA Whistleblower Kiriakou Honored

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou.

CIA officer John Kiriakou, the first U.S. official to confirm that waterboarding was used to torture “war on terror” detainees, then faced a retaliatory prosecution and 30 months in prison. Recognizing his sacrifice, the literary group PEN gave Kiriakou its First Amendment Award, observed ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Lost on the ‘Dark Side’ in Syria

President and Mrs. Obama disembark from Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Jan. 27, 2015, for a state visit to Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The full story of how the U.S. ended up allied with some Sunni extremists in Syria – while at war with others – is a convoluted tale dating back to President George W. Bush’s neocons venturing off into Vice President Cheney’s “dark side” to work with violent jihadists, writes British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

Falling into the ISIS Trap

President Barack Obama meets with his National Security Staff to discuss the situation in Syria, in the Situation Room of the White House, Aug. 30, 2013. From left at the table: National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice; Attorney General Eric Holder; Secretary of State John Kerry; and Vice President Joe Biden. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Special Report: The Islamic State has entered into “phase two” of its plan. After establishing a rudimentary “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq (phase one), it is now seeking to provoke the West into a self-defeating overreaction, a trap that “tough” politicians are falling into, as historian William R. Polk describes.

The Need for a Syrian Deal

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks – and other mass killings in Beirut and aboard a Russian airliner – there are new demands for military action. But the one step that might help matters is a more pragmatic approach to resolving the political crisis in Syria, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar explains.

Grasping the Motives for Terror

Aftermath of the U.S. destruction of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. (Graphic credit: RT)

The Paris terror attacks – particularly the methodical shooting of unarmed civilians – have shocked the world and generated new tough talk from policymakers. But the West cannot ignore how some of its violent policy prescriptions over the past 35 years have contributed to the crisis, writes James Paul.

Obama’s Gitmo Failure

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

As President Obama approaches his final year in office, he has yet to fulfill one of his earliest promises, closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. It remains a grievance used by terror groups as a recruiting tool, but the prison has other legal and political problems, writes Marjorie Cohn at TeleSUR.

How Saudi/Gulf Money Fuels Terror

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, meeting with President George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, on Aug. 27, 2002. (White House photo)

Exclusive: With the death toll in the Paris terror attacks still rising, French President Hollande is condemning an “act of war” by the Islamic State, but the underlying reality is that France’s rich friends in the Persian Gulf are key accomplices in the mayhem, writes Daniel Lazare.

Can Obama Level with the People?

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials on Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of Obama's State Visit to Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Exclusive: Another terrorist outrage – this one in Paris – is spreading fear and fury across Europe. Which makes this a key moment for President Obama to finally level with the American people about how U.S. “allies” — such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar — have been aiding and abetting extremists, reports Robert Parry.

The Enduring Crime of ‘Agent Orange’

A U.S. military helicopter spraying the defoliant Agent Orange over Vietnam during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Army photo)

A half century ago, the U.S. government began a campaign of spraying Agent Orange herbicides on the forests of Southeast Asia, thinking that by defoliating vast areas, the military could more effectively bomb the “enemy” but instead created an ecological and health catastrophe, as Gary G. Kohls recalls.

Carpetbagging ‘Crony Capitalism’ in Ukraine

Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.

Exclusive: Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko and other key officials were given overnight Ukrainian citizenship — with the law requiring them to renounce their old allegiances — but the American-born Jaresko has balked at that mandate, raising questions about her true motives, reports Robert Parry.